Acer will begin offering the Linux operating system across a select range of its commercial desktop platforms.
Red Hat Linux will be installed on the Veriton 3600, 5600 and 7600 series of desktop PCs to Australian businesses, in preference to a Windows operating system.
Acer marketing director Raymond Vardanega said the Linux option will be a permanent offer across its Veriton commercial series of desktop PCs.
"We see Linux as a growing part of the IT community," he said.
Vardanega said the decision to offer Linux was a response to customer requests for a global supplier product that could be supported across Australia for a variety of pilot business projects.
"Many commercial companies using a global supplier find it hard to get a configurable global Linux product."
These include small and large-sized commercial companies as well as government organisations.
Vardanega said business pilot projects testing Linux generally consisted of between five and 50 PCs.
"They're very hardware-centric, and like to configure their own PCs - they want to be able to customise their desktop setups," he added.
Deploying reliable open-source software which promised global technical support was also a key driver for choosing the Red Hat Linux distribution.
As well as being "tried and tested", Red Hat controlled its own distribution releases, not third-party suppliers, Vardanega said.
Acer's decision to incorporate Linux into its commercial desktop line-up comes just a week after fellow PC manufacturer HP announced it would offer Mandrake Linux version 9.1 with its Compaq d220 series of low-end desktop PCs.
Designed for small-to-medium businesses, the base configuration for the d220 series includes a 2.0GHz Celeron processor, and prices starts at $349 (not including a monitor).
The Veriton 3600, 5600 and 7600 PCs are based on Pentium 4 processors and feature the Intel 865G chipset with 800 Front Side Bus (FSB).
The standard Veriton series comes with the choice of either Windows 2000, XP Home or XP Professional. Purchasing the new Linux-based platform represented a saving of $260 (£159) over a standard Windows 2000 system, and a $83 saving compared with a system built on Windows XP Home.
While he was confident that Linux would continue to build a presence in the business space, Vardanega said the open-source operating system was not yet ready to be introduced to the home user market.
"Linux isn't really ready for the mass home market. It's not user-friendly enough or compatible with applications.
"As a result, Acer has no current plans to introduce a Linux version of its retail Aspire desktop PC series."
The Linux PCs are now available either through Acer's own e-commerce enabled Build Your Own Web site or its nationwide channel partners.
Nadia Cameron writes for Linux World